AC, Avoidance and Defensive Skills explained
Written By Vizier
Over the years, Ive found many people in EQ are in the dark about what all of the numbers on their character sheet actually mean.
What exactly is Armor Class? What do the Combat Agility and Combat Stability AAs actually do? How do avoidance and shielding fit in? If you ever wondered about any of those things then keep reading. All of that will be explained and more.
The first thing you need to know about AC is that for most toons the vast majority of the number you see displayed on your character sheet in your inventory is ineffective AC.
Each archetype, (Plate, Chain, Leather,Cloth) has a limit to the amount of AC that actually "works". That limit is called your "soft cap", and it varies between classes.
What follows is a list of the AC soft cap approximations for each archetype. In the following chart, worn AC means look at your gear and add up the AC it shows when you inspect the individual item.
Cloth..........= ~75 worn AC (yes its really that low)
Leather......= ~100 worn AC
Monk..........= ~120 worn AC (if they are under 15 stone wieght)
Chain.........= ~200 worn AC
Plate .........= ~300 worn AC
You may be shocked at how low those number are, I certainly was. My robe alone has 75 AC on it, so I hit my soft cap with 1 piece of gear! Everyone reading this can go check their character right now and Im sure you will see that you are all way above the softcap. Hitting the AC soft cap for your character is trivial in EQ today. So what we really want to know about is how effective is worn AC AFTER the softcap. The answer varies by class:
AC returns after the soft cap has been reached
45%: Warrior (from Devs)
33%: Knight (from Devs), Monk (reportedly equal to Knight? via Zajeer?)
23%: Cleric, Bard (via L2), BZR (rough estimate based off of parsing)
17%: BST, Ranger (BST is ~1/2 of the monk, ranger hearsay)
6%: Druid, Enc, Mag, Nec, Wiz (~1/3 of BST -- Druid was quoted as "lowest")
Rogue, Shaman? Probably they are close to cleric returns.
What does that mean? Well lets use a warrior for example, and lets say that when he looks in his inventory he sees his AC displayed as 1000, this is called displayed AC for future reference. Displayed AC adds up your worn AC and mulitiples it by 1.65.
1000ac / 1.65 = 600 worn AC.
So if this particular warrior added up all the AC listed on his gear it would be about 600, I rounded these values to make it a bit easier to work with. Now remember Warrior are a plate class with a soft cap of about 300.
600 worn AC = 300 under the cap AC + 300 over the cap AC.
300 over the cap AC = 300 * 45% = 135 effective AC.
300 under the cap AC + 135 effective over the cap AC = 435 REAL AC
So in review a warrior that looks in his inventory and sees 1000ac displayed up at the top, really only has 435 REAL AC!Using the same formula for a Ranger that has 1000 displayed AC you get this:
1000 displayed AC= 600 worn AC = 200 under the cap + 68 effective AC = 268 REAL AC!
So two completely different classes that have the same number displayed in the AC catagory of their inventory have VASTLY different real AC!
Ok now I hope you can understand everything up until this point because there one more piece of the AC puzzle I need to explain now and that is Shields.
The truth about Shields
If you have a shield in your secondary slot, ALL of the AC on that shield counts as "under the cap AC". That means if you have a shield with 100AC you get ALL 100 AC from it, regardless of what class you are, or what return over the cap your class gets!!!
Weapons with AC on them in the secondary slot dont count, neither do orbs, lanterns, totems etc. It must be an actual shield to get the raw AC bonus.
Take me for example, im a cloth wearer with an AC softcap of 75 BUT I use a shield+aug that gives me 110ac. That means I get more AC from my shield alone than all of my other gear combined!!!
Even if you dont understand any of that it simplifies down to this: If you use a shield, ignore every stat on that shield except AC. A shield with 100ac and no HPs is far better than a shield with 500hps and no AC, yes its that dramatic.
Here is some raw parsed data that illustrates the effectiveness of shield AC.
2504ac no shield
average hit 618.1
2513ac 100ac shield
average hit 567.90
2512ac 175ac shield
average hit 537.4
3659ac 175ac shield
average hit 519.9
The test subject was an INT caster, tank returns on AC are much better of course. Still that parse clearly shows just how effective a shield can be.
Another VERY important piece of the puzzle is Combat Stability and Combat Agility. Formerly both of these AAs were thought to increase your AC softcap, but in a recent post a Dev revealed that CA increases your avoidance, and CS increases your softcap.
Here is the table that was released by the devs shortly after the Secrets of Faydwer expansion was released:
Combat Agility Values given by devs-
Combat Stability Values -
Other Defensive combat skills
The rest of your defensive skills are failrly easy to assess by looking at the following chart. Basically if you are evaluating gear and you want to know how valuable +10 avoidance is for example, this chart gives you approximately how many HPs those skills are worth in terms of defensive survivability.
Defensive value of combat skill displayed in equivalent HPs
Improved Dodge V.......660 HPe
Improved Dodge IV......530 HPe
Improved Dodge III......400 HPe
+5 Avoidance.............300 HPe
Improved Dodge II......260 HPe
10 shield AC...............250 HPe
Improved Dodge I .......130 HPe
8% dodge skill ...........100 HPe
1% shielding.................80 HPe
10 STA ......................16 HPe
10 normal AC*..............13 HPe
10 AGI..........................8 HPe
10 HP..........................10 HPe
*Varies by class, 13 hps is the value for cloth wearers.
Take a look at how important Shield AC is. If you have 100 shield AC that is the defensive equivalent of ~2500 hps! You may also notice that both Shielding and Avoidance have excellent defensive effectiveness, and should be highly valued when evaluating gear.
It should be noted that Avoidance is hard capped at 100 and Shielding is hard capped at 35%. You wont get any defensive value out of those stats at all if you go over the hard caps.
Well that about covers it. I realize that this all may seem very complicated, but its still very important to understand exactly how EQ works so that you can acurately calculate your characters defensive abilities.